August 1, 2022 FDCI

‘Freedom’ is luxury

Anamika Khanna celebrates life with fine details and a focus on interpreting her past offerings with a new, invigorating twist

By Asmita Aggarwal

Barefoot models, in desert land-like set, tribal influences, macrame and beaded capes, couture finally celebrates “broken-ness” mirroring what the world is facing, as Anamika Khanna ends the India Couture Week 2022 with a splash of pearls. Bollywood star Rajkumar Rao is as alternate as Khanna’s love for shying away from the vagaries of the fashion world, but she knew her trails with their beautifully constructed fabric flowers, which must have taken hours to manipulate would be loved by her adoring clientele.

The hues of copper jackets, pants and dhotis silhouettes all in one, denim treated and tattered, the finish was deliberately kept shredded to show, it is ok not to be ok sometimes, even though her pret line goes by the name AK-OK.  The astonishing aspect of Khanna’s clothing is not a predominant white palette, but combining several techniques on one garment.

The Kolkata-based designer has a unique way of expressing herself, as menswear courted hues of charcoal and men wore nose studs. And there were the proverbial “holes” everywhere, clothing reflects the loss and repair of human existence post-covid and each artist interprets it in their own unique way.   To add to this is the beauty of the embroidery which Khanna kept rough and raw with its uncut threads just like our emotions sometimes.

Restricting her to Sonam Kapoor’s favourite designer wouldn’t be fair as she is ready to pass on the reins of the empire she single handedly created over the past 30 years to her boys Viraj and Vishesh. Interestingly, like most other mothers who hand hold, Anamika has let the twins make mistakes and learn on their own, whether it is about their tie up with Reliance for AK-OK, choosing to play golf or veer towards art. Effective parenting is allowing children to make their own choices, and this theory Anamika applies to her life as well. She stayed away from the limelight, paid attention to detail, amalgamated various crafts from all over India, leaving a legacy behind and creating timeless pieces, when most were looking at trend forecasts.

This new move to bring in sustainability has always been a blueprint for Anamika, who has clients who come to her with their 20-year-old AK couture pieces, asking her to create something new to wear for the daughter’s wedding. “Mindfulness is luxury and it comes with cherishing something you own, valuing and not discarding it because you want the next new thing,” says Anamika.

For her, luxury is a state-of-mind, less about expensive acquisitions, or about a lifestyle, two people may have different approaches on what “enough” means, for one it may be too much for the other too little, it is about perspective. A full night’s good sleep may be a luxury over wearing an expensive watch, she reiterates. “This show is an experiment, and when you bring old pieces, we bring them to life, put them in a modern context,” she explains.

The pursuit of perfection is now obsolete with the post-covid world accepting each day with gratitude, Anamika understands, this ICW show is about being “fearless” and “individualistic” without defined boundaries. “We are global citizens, not just modern, but we also move with the world and may choose to wear a lehenga-style skirt to work, it is your life and you don’t need to be cast in a mould,” she explains.

The philosophy of ‘love everything you do’ seeps in the reinvention of the cape and dhoti which has been the brand’s signature, keeping it simple yet establishing a viewpoint. “The line talks about freedom to do what I want, feel no pressure, accept what comes your way,” she reiterates.

And maybe what has taken Anamika this far is also doing what her instinct tells her, unfettered by market needs or demands, and not worrying about the result. “A lot of people have moved away from red, but I think it has come back bolder and more powerful, so it all boils down to individual choice, which is what couture is about, a celebration of what you believe in,” she concludes.

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Fashion Design Council of India